When a baby blesses the cosmos with a first laugh, we’re likely to run for the baby book and jot down the date with a grin. But there are cultures that take laughter more seriously—that is to say, see meaning in the virgin giggle. The Navajo believe that for the first few months of life, a baby is a citizen of two worlds: heaven and earth. But the first laugh signals the soul’s desire to join their earth family and be part of its community. And the person who induces that first laugh? In the Navajo culture, they serve as the host for the ceremony that ensues, A'wee Chi'deedloh ("The Baby Laughed")
Oh, part of me melts at the thought of belonging to a tribe where a baby’s first laugh is honored with a celebration! The guests file past the feted infant, who with the help of his or her laugh-instigator blesses their specialty foods with salt crystals! Alas, tonight at my children’s home, we had just finished dinner when our Garen giggled aloud. He was merely being bounced on a knee with a slight sound effect that evidently struck him as hilarious--because every time it was repeated, it was like putting a nickel in a giggle machine. People ran from the four corners of our little earth to hear the melodious sound of baby’s first laugh. A one-person symphony! We were all grinning like fools and begging for more until the poor little guy ran out of chortles and stared blankly back in response to our clamoring.
This fall when I decided to make my home in two places and temporarily left Maui behind, I did so primarily to be an integral part of my grandchildren’s lives. For part of the year, I could pick them up after school and go for cocoa or ice cream; have overnights at “Delly’s;” and know the names of their friends—imaginary and real. I could know them as I simply couldn’t if I were a plane ride and an ocean away. But never did I imagine that three months into the gig, the youngest would respond to my attentions with a bona fide giggle. It was my indelible “Delly” honor to be the catalyst of that ceremonial chuckle. And so I celebrate in my own way—with the written word, hoping you will feel the pulse of a magic family moment with me.
Oh! And the one who elicits the first laugh? According to the Navajo, the baby will tend to take on the traits of that person. Which only gives me another reason to stick around, watch myself unfold, and see just how much laughter my heart can hold.
So what “first” do you have to giggle about this week? How are you going to celebrate it?
Together on the Evolving Journey,
In : Women at midlife
Tags: maui "spiritual guidance"
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